In the decade since Christopher Reeve's death, his children have worked tirelessly in finding funds for spinal-injury research to help six million lives.
Christopher Reeve's oldest son Matthew exclusively shared a look at "a video showing the amazing progress made by four young men paralyzed by spinal cord injuries" with People.
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Christopher died a decade ago, but Matthew wishes his father was alive to see the "huge breakthrough" in the treatment. He told the magazine, "It's hard not to think, 'What if he was here and what if he was present for this breakthrough?'"
Excited at the progress, he explains the amazing transformation for the men. Originally told they would never be able to move below their neck or chest, hard work and groundbreaking research through epidural stimulation allows the men to stand and move hips, legs, and toes.
"There's a comfort in the fact that we wouldn't be where we are had it not been for his tireless advocacy."
Christopher made a splash as Superman and became one of the most recognizable faces in the role--in part from handsome features and soft, kind eyes. When the actor was paralyzed in a 1995 horseback riding incident, he spent the last 9 years of his life lobbying and searching for a cure. Not only for himself, but everyone in the same position. He never backed away from cutting-edge research, or fighting for the use of the research.
Alongside his wife Dana, the two worked tirelessly to help the six million Americans living with paralysis. Setting up the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Even though Dana died from lung cancer in 2006, the Reeve children have continued the legacy.
"It was a big part of all of our lives," Matthew says. Siblings Alexandra Reeve Givens, 30, a senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Will Reeve, 22, a recent college graduate, all work with the Foundation.
“It's a huge honor to continue the work he started.”
Matthew's looking to raise $15 million in order to allow 36 more men and women for the next stage of the research. The Kentucky's University of Louisville "treatment involves implanting a device on the spine normally used to treat pain to stimulate the nerves and remind them how to work again."
Rob Summers, 28, is a former college baseball player and says the experience “is absolutely life-changing.” He’s now a coach, motivational speaker, and advocate of the treatment. Dustin Shillcox, 30, agrees. “It’s given me self-confidence.”
And that’s one of the messages that Matthew thinks his father would have loved the most.
"I don't come close to being as effective as he was, in terms of raising money and increasing awareness and his advocacy efforts, but it's a cause that's close to my heart."
And raising money is so important to the foundation and research. Robin Williams often lent support to his best friend, and then in his best friend's memory.
The procedure doesn’t just allow the men to walk. Paralyzed people often face difficulty controlling bowel and bladder functions, but these men no longer face such problems. Other benefits include cardiovascular, respiratory, and sexual functions.
Andrew Meas, 35, says that "with the stimulator, it feels like I'm normal again.” As a husband and father, the advancements must be the best kind of overwhelming. And in the same video, 27-year-old Kent Stephenson said, “I can't wait to skip, leap and jump again."
Reeve believes the newest treatment will be a “game changer.” He feels that "it's no longer a question of if there will be effective treatments for spinal cord injury. It's a question of how quickly we can get them to the people that need it most."
“My father dreamed of a world with empty wheelchairs and gave hope to a whole community. This is a key new step in that hope becoming realized."
Matthew Reeve hopes the treatment and featured men will inspire donations and support for what could save six million lives for the better.
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Find out more information about the campaign and how to donate at ReeveBigIdea. Hope is everything when invisible pressures force you down.